D.C. Council to consider legal sports betting, ahead of Virginia and Maryland

D.C. Councilman Jack Evans on Tuesday proposed to legalize sports betting in the District.

Evans, D-Ward 2, joined by five colleagues, introduced the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018 to permit sports betting and create strong "regulatory structures that ensure consumer confidence."

According to a release, Evans' office worked closely with the D.C. Lottery to craft the legislation that seeks to maximize revenue for the District, allowing residents to place bets both online and in-person in new facilities.

The D.C. Lottery, under the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, would be responsible for overseeing the industry, ensuring operators obtain licenses and prohibiting and reporting fraudulent behavior, according to the bill text.

"The city should take advantage of our ability to act before the Maryland or Virginia legislatures to create a thriving sports betting market, which will attract consumers to the District and generate revenue for District residents,” Evans said in the release.

Under the bill, the cost to acquire a five-year sports wagering license would run $50,000, or $10,000 for a sports wagering supplier license, or $5,000 for a sports wagering retailer license. Sports betting operators would be required to pay, monthly, 10 percent of gross revenue to the District, with 50 percent dedicated to early childhood initiatives and the remainder to the Commission of the Arts and Humanities, with any excess going to the city's general fund.

The nearest legalized sports betting operator is Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in Ranson, West Virginia. The general manager at Hollywood Casino told The Washington Post in August that it was targeting Greater Washington because it has the advantage of being "the only game in town," according to the press release. The casino, roughly a 90-minute drive from D.C., introduced sports betting on Sept. 1.

In May, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that reversed a 1992 law banning sports betting outside of Nevada. It is now legal in Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi and West Virginia.

Council members Mary Cheh, D-Ward 3, Vincent Gray, D-Ward 7, Brandon Todd, D-Ward 4, Anita Bonds, D-At-large, and Robert White, D-At-large, joined Evans to co-introduce the bill. It will be referred to the Committee on Finance and Revenue, which Evans chairs, before consideration for a vote.

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